The GOLD STANDARD IN rehabilitation treatments and wellness programmes for dogs

Condition Guide

Hip Dysplasia

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a catch-all term that means there is an abnormal development of the hip joint. It inevitably leads to the development of arthritis. Either the hip dysplasia or the secondary arthritis may cause hip pain.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder. During the first few months of life, as the hips are developing, they become unstable. As a result the ball and socket move apart during weight bearing. This causes abnormal forces on the soft bones which leads to the ball becoming flattened and the socket becoming shallow. The process is self-perpetuating and causes damage to the covering of the bones. Cartilage damage is a key feature of the secondary osteoarthritis.

What are the symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?

Affected dogs may show signs of:

How is Hip Dysplasia diagnosed?

Examination may reveal muscle wastage, especially over the hips. Manipulation of the joints may cause increased pain and instability may be palpable.

X-rays are necessary to diagnose hip dysplasia. They enable the severity of the abnormal joint development and presence of secondary osteoarthritis to be assessed.

How is a Hip Dysplasia treated?

The majority of dogs with hip dysplasia can be managed satisfactorily without the need for surgery. Exercise often needs to be controlled to some degree. Each dog will have its own threshold of duration and type of activity beyond which hip pain may increase. Hydrotherapy is often beneficial. Dogs that are overweight benefit from being placed on a diet.

Some dogs with hip dysplasia fail to respond satisfactorily to conservative treatment and in these cases surgery may be indicated. The two key types of surgery are:

The outlook or prognosis with hip dysplasia and the associated osteoarthritis is generally good. 

Orthopaedic rehabilitation

Rehabilitation is a process which aims to maximise patient mobility and wellbeing, returning them to their usual way of life following illness, injury or surgery. We restore pets to normal function (or as close as is possible), efficiently and safely using a wide variety of physiotherapeutic techniques.

Injury and even surgery can disrupt the body’s equilibrium in all sorts of direct and indirect ways. Even a pet’s own protective responses such as the inflammatory process can overwhelm and inhibit healing so one objective of rehabilitation is to reduce this level of inflammation.  During rehabilitation, we also aim to boost the circulatory system, improve muscle function, increase range of motion within joints, and stimulate innate pain-relieving mechanisms.

With a committed and planned rehabilitation programme, pets can recover more quickly, realise better outcomes and avoid much pain and discomfort.

The best rehabilitation programmes consider the whole pet, not just the area of injury; we target and improve multiple systems throughout the body without forgetting the invaluable healing effects of boosting mental wellbeing too. From the wound healing properties of laser treatment, and the muscle strengthening of hydrotherapy, to the circulation boosting effects of massage, we will devise a rehabilitation programme to match a pet’s specific requirements.

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The content on this page is for advice and information only and does not represent veterinary guidance or direction. Please always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are worries about your dog.